School districts are responsible for ensuring that youth who are experiencing homelessness have full access to educational programs in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Each district appoints a McKinney-Vento Liaison to assist families and students who have questions or need support. The list of Liaisons is available here.
Brochure: Displaced Children (PDF)
If a parent or student has a concern or complaint that has not been able to be resolved at the school district level, please contact the McKinney-Vento Liaison for Sonoma County Office of Education, Debra Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-524-2661.
All Sonoma County students have the right to enroll in and attend school, even when housing becomes uncertain. Schools should provide homeless students with:
- Enrollment within 24 hours
- Free and reduced-price meals
- Removal of barriers to education
- School supplies, transportation assistance, and support service referrals
If a child lacks “fixed, regular, and adequate housing,” federal and state laws require immediate school enrollment for that child – even without proof of residency or medical, school, or legal guardianship records.
Definition of “homelessness”
According to the McKinney-Vento Act, a student is homeless if s/he lives:
- In a shelter such as a family, domestic violence, or youth shelter or transitional living program
- In a motel, hotel, or weekly-rate housing
- In shared housing with more than one family due to economic hardship or loss
- In an abandoned building, car, campground, or on the street
- In temporary foster care or temporarily with an adult who is not his/her parent or guardian
- In substandard housing (without electricity, water, or heat)
- With friends or family because they are a runaway or unaccompanied youth
AB 1806, Pupil Services for Homeless Children or Youth
This Assembly Bill was signed into law on September 29, 2014. It extends some of the protections that were issued to foster youth to homeless youth and provides new mandates regarding partial credit, exemption from graduation requirements, and expulsion recommendations for homeless youth. This AB 1806 Summary (pdf) from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) provides additional information.
- Debra Sanders, Foster Youth Services Coordinator